We’re so pleased to have the Soulbound book tour stopping by today, the latest release from author Archer Kay Leah, and book four in the Republic series. We have a great guest post to share with you as well as a giveaway, so be sure to check out those details below.
The Journey of Soulbound: From Extra Fluff to Whopping Significance
Hello, everyone! I’m Archer Kay Leah, author of LGTBQA+ speculative fiction romance, especially of the fantastical variety. Warm thanks to The Novel Approach for hosting this first stop on the tour for Soulbound, the fourth book in my fantasy romance series, The Republic. And thanks to all of you for checking this out! <3
Today I’ll be going into some of the background for Soulbound. More specifically, what inspired it to begin with and how it went from being a simple little side story to becoming a huge beast of significance in the series! Because I’ll be honest: this story was a surprise to me, and since then, it’s been one strange snowball of revelations.
It wasn’t planned. It really wasn’t. When I wrote Four, book 2 in the Republic series and the first to feature Mayr and Tash as a pair, I signed off on the final words as being just that: final. They had their Happily Ever After ending and that was that. Sure, they made appearances in book 3, Blood Borne, given one of the main characters — Ress — was one of Tash’s best friends growing up, and I dropped a few hints as to where their future might go.
Then again, I think that’s where things officially went terribly awry.
Just a single mention of a possible future can change things in a series. Without knowing it, I’d set out the welcome mat for the Plot Bunnies, offered up a tasty meal, and let them have at it! What started as a means to keep the characters’ lives rolling forward without writing another book ended up… writing another book… and a third on the backburner, because two apparently isn’t enough.
Enter all the exasperated sighs. (aka. #writerproblems #writerslife #WhyDoWeDoThisToOurselves?!?!)
But It Says Right Here…
Since I’m a nerd for details, paper trails, and documenting, well, everything, it’s possible to trace the path of how Soulbound happened. The most telling are the files with story notes, including one aptly titled, “Aim for 30k – 35k (ebook only)“, where the plan was a short novella to resolve certain things in Mayr and Tash’s relationship that came up in Blood Borne. It started with a couple of ideas, including a sparring session between the guys, seeing as Tash hadn’t been in the training ring for years. I thought it’d be fun to see what happens when Mayr, Head of the Guard, had to train his boyfriend… who, as a priest, abstains from violence as a whole. Mostly, though, I wanted it to be on the happy, relatively fluffier side, tying up loose ends.
Problem is… those ideas led to other ideas, and then it picked up momentum and just wouldn’t stop. Because of course, there needed to be a conflict to resolve, then the resolution itself. And a matter of logistics. Then a character barreled his way into it, throwing everything into disarray and posing so many more questions than answers. Another character, Arieve, also eased her way in with the means to solve another issue, thereby snagging a spot in Mayr and Tash’s relationship, opening up even more doors…
I gave up on the novella. I can even pinpoint exactly when that happened: where my notes estimated the word count to reach near twice as long as expected, with a short note justifying the story. Eventually, I even gave up on “twice as long”, because that wasn’t going to happen.
When You’re Finished with a Book, but the Characters Aren’t Finished with You…
Looking back, I suppose the book was always there, lurking and waiting for a chance to be written. At least parts of it were, a mess of pieces that needed to be put together in some coherent form. In Four, several windows of possibility were left open — mostly the concept of soulmates, which Tash touched on a few times:
“You’re so familiar, like I’ve known you before, from another lifetime; another existence. We’re connected. I felt it in the tavern, and it’s stronger now.” He took Mayr’s hands in his and twisted his arms behind his back, holding Mayr’s arms around him. “I feel like I’ve been looking for you. There’s something I need to tell you, something incredibly important that my spirit needs to say to yours, but I don’t know what. The more I think about it, the more the words slip away. I’m struggling to understand, but I can’t.” — Tash, from Four
Blood Borne only added more possibilities to the pot, stirring things up, not only where Mayr and Tash’s relationship was concerned, but in the series as a whole. There’s an over-arching storyline in this series that gets pushed further with each book, and I hadn’t completely figured out where it was going to go… until this book started fleshing itself out. One thing led to another until I finally realized — and accepted — what I was actually looking at. It wasn’t a short, happy novella to tie off loose ends: it was entire turnabout for everyone in the series, giving it a new depth and all sorts of life.
Emeraliss, give us strength and compassion. Give us hope. We need every advantage we can get… and more than a little forgiveness. — Tash, from Soulbound
Soulbound may have started as a sweet aside, but it’s ended up a major player. Decisions made in this book will have ramifications in the rest of them, right up to the very last word on the very last page of the very last book of the series. Rather than a fluffy bit of fun, it’s ended up as a mix of sweet, loving care and raw, messed up emotions. There are truths uncovered, tough calls made, and alliances forged. Going forward, there’s at least one war that hits too close to home… and these guys are caught right in the centre of it.
We’re stronger together, unified better than any Task Force. We’re the bound souls that’ll mess the Shar up. We’re the nasty bit of Emeraliss that’ll love those bastards straight into torture. Both go in, both come out, because there’s only life, only love, only this. — Mayr, from Soulbound
And that’s all for today! Thank you so much for reading, everyone. I love hearing from readers, so feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and musings, including any of your own experiences where characters and books took you for a ride when you were least expecting it! :)
About the Book
Series: The Republic: Book Four
Author: Archer Kay Leah
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: September 5, 2018
Word Count: 136k
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Genres: Fantasy/High Fantasy, Romance
Pairings: MM (primary), MMF (secondary, overlaps with the primary)
Tropes: Soul mates
Keywords/Categories: Bisexual, poly
Warnings: Soulbound contains some explicit content, references to self-harm, suicide, and mentions of suicide-related behavior and intent. This story also contains instances of graphic violence, references to rape and domestic abuse, and depictions and mentions of depression.
Blurb: In a relationship that violates rules and expectations, Mayr and Tash have found their perfect match in each other. Despite their fears and difficult pasts, they hope for a shared future with security and a family. When Mayr’s secret first love, Arieve, proposes they create that family with her, it seems dreams could become reality.
But life is complicated, and so is the delicate balance between duty and love. While Mayr protects the Dahe family at all costs, Tash is determined to succeed as a priest. Both positions require sacrifice, forcing their relationship into painful choices. To make matters worse, criminals lurk in the shadows, seeking revenge on them and those they guard.
The life they want risks losing everything—including Arieve and each other. Even if they can have it all, keeping it may take more than they can give.
About the Series
With the right people and the right price, the Republic of Kattal can be brought to its knees. But for every line crossed, someone waits on the other side, ready to push back.
Armed and ready to defend their lives, these heroes are not afraid of the fight. They stare adversity in the eye and dance with the darkness within. But in their justice, there is wisdom. In wisdom, there is protection. In it all, there is love. Sometimes it’s a matter of saving a village; sometimes it’s a matter of saving the one they can’t live without. Sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing and learning to love oneself.
Magic may lurk in the shadows. Crime may never sleep. But love doesn’t back down.
Silence fell, deep with meaning conveyed by long gazes and soft smiles. Why had he expected Aeley to say anything different?
Three loud knocks rapped the door, scaring them both. Cursing under his breath, Mayr opened the door.
Every foul word tumbled back down Mayr’s throat. “Hey.” He leaned against the door, one arm sliding up the side.
In an instant, he tripped on his own feet and stumbled into the door, swinging it open further.
“You can’t possibly be drunk already.” The corners of Arieve’s eyes crinkled with her smile, her glossed lips painted pink like her cheeks. Dark curls and plaits cascaded over her shoulders, the firelight lending a golden hue to the white-blonde streaks in the fringe of hair across her forehead. She held a silver tray, presenting two glass goblets filled with a bluish-purple drink and fragments of gold leaf sprinkled on top. “Otherwise, this might be a bad idea.”
“What’s a bad idea?” Mayr grimaced, his mouth suddenly dry as if filled with pillow stuffing. Quick to recover, he smoothed his shirt, resettled his belts, and slicked back his hair, pretending he meant to be clumsy.
“Your after-dinner drinks. Lira was going to bring them, but I thought I’d save her the trip. She’s having fun trading stories with your mother.” Arieve cleared her throat. “I didn’t want to interrupt your conversation.”
The tray rattled in her hand. The drinks threatened to slosh over the rims.
Mayr steadied the tray. “Thanks for that. This. These.” He offered her an awkward smile and took the goblets. “I’ll let you get back.” So you won’t see me kick my own ass for being completely inappropriate.
“Thanks, Arieve,” Aeley called from her desk.
“You’re welcome.” Arieve hesitated as she lowered the tray. She swayed gently, the rich green layers of her tiered, ruffled skirts moving with her. “I’ll let you finish.”
Before Mayr could say anything else, Arieve hurried down the hall and around the corner.
“I wonder what the mix is this time.” Aeley snatched one goblet to sniff it. “Hint of gaffa nectar, soured pamolea extract, and a bite of fulore. Plus maybe, probably—” another sniff “—syrup from the Sailor’s Sweetheart bush.” She took a sip and nodded. Flakes of gold leaf clung to her top lip. “Not as fun as last night’s concoction, but I could get used to it.”
“That’s what you always say.” Mayr brushed the flakes from Aeley’s lips with his thumb.
Aeley wiped her mouth on her sleeve. “Not always, just a lot. Cook knows her stuff. To be fair, she’s known me since I was three, getting into her puddings and tarts anytime she turned around. I trust that when she serves up a hodgeypodgey drink, it’s got personality.” She tapped her goblet against his. “I’m heading back to our guests. You should, too, considering it’s your party. We can resume this conversation later.”
After a kiss to his cheek, Aeley flounced out the door and through the corridor, humming to herself.
Mayr stared into his goblet, watching the gold swirl in an abstract pattern. My stomach. My head. I can’t even…
He set the goblet on Aeley’s desk. He needed Tash’s forgiveness more than he deserved a fancy drink.
As he exited the room, questions assaulted him hard enough to drown the sound of the door latch as it caught. One question practically shouted above all the others: how much had Arieve heard of his conversation with Aeley?
His heartbeat faltered. He was mortified. The door was not impervious to sound. What would Arieve think of him had she heard…
Hey, stupid! It doesn’t matter. Mayr grumbled and hooked his thumbs around the back of his belts. It still comes out to you’re taken and happy, so shut up. Dragging his heels, he wandered through the corridor and turned into the next, towards the ballroom.
Around the corner, Arieve leaned against the wall, head bowed, with her face hidden by her hair. She twined the trailing black laces of her bright green tunic around her fingers and pulled taut, then released them only to repeat the process. The empty tray rested beside her, abandoned against the wall.
“Hey.” Mayr stopped, careful to leave two foot lengths between them. “I thought you went back?” He toyed with his marriage ring, twisting the band nervously. Memories of Tash surged forward, the airy weight of his kisses almost real enough to feel.
“I wanted to wait for you.” Arieve raised her head and offered a tender smile. “I probably won’t get a word in the rest of the night given the company, so I thought…”
She was in his arms before he could reply. Her hug stole his surprise, shredding it until all that remained was stunned.
“Congratulations,” she murmured, her forehead tucked beneath his chin. “He’s got a good heart, solid. You’ve found your match. If the Four could grant me one wish tonight, it’d be for you two to have everything you desire.”
Mayr hesitated, his hands hovering over Arieve’s back. Touching was a bad idea, especially while he kept Tash from the truth. “Thank you.” Quick as he could, he embraced Arieve and pushed her away, feeling worse than the coward he was. “Let’s go back. I need to stop my mother from revealing every baby story she has or everyone’s going to hear about my naked backside and trailing diaper crowns.”
Arieve picked up the tray and started up the hall. “I’m sure Tash is soaking them up as we speak.” She laughed, the joyous sound digging up a dozen memories.
Memories he needed to lock up and burn down.
He followed Arieve and cast his gaze to the ceiling. Please, Reverent Goddesses, get me through tonight. Then let’s talk about strength of will, because one of these days I’m going to have to confess everything and it’ll hurt more than scorching my pride.
About the Author
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.
Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a bigender partner and rather chatty cat.